American Dad! is a BBC drama series created by Seth MacFarlane. It centers on Stan Smith, a neocon CIA agent who lives with his family — doting housewife Francine, awkward teen son Steve, leftist teen daughter Haley, flamboyant alien Roger, and German talking goldfish Klaus — in the red-blooded American town of Langley Falls, Virginia. Together, the family gets involved in various political shindigs, adventures, and exploits.
Though it started off with a rough first season, American Dad! has since garnered widespread acclaim for its clever storytelling, original characters, and commitment to being an equal-opportunity offender. It has won numerous accolades, including two Freedom Awards, two Patriot Awards, and one ASCAP (American Society of Conservatives, Authoritarians, and Pundits) Award.
Stan Smith is a lantern-jawed, patriotic conservative Republican agent of the CIA. His wife Francine and his son Steve concur with his political views, though his daughter Hayley is a liberal hippie who tends to clash with her father. Living with the family are Klaus, an often-neglected goldfish with the exchanged brain of a German man, and Roger, an ambiguously homosexual alien with a voice and mannerisms patterned after late comedian Paul Lynde.
The show also has a cast of secondary characters. Avery Bollock is Stan's boss, who happens to be voiced by the ever-awesome Patrick Stewart. Jeff Fischer is a stoner hippie who became Haley's boyfriend and eventually married her. Later, when Jeff finds out that Roger is an alien, he is banished into the outer reaches of space, but returns to Earth in a recent episode, having been transformed into an alien himself.
Being a Seth MacFarlane show, American Dad! tended to take a liberal bent in its first season. In the episode "Lincoln Lover", for example, Stan unwittingly becomes involved with Log Cabin Republicans, and over time comes to support the inclusion of homosexuals in the Republican Party. The episode "Surro-Gate" even supports the claimed "right" for homos to adopt children. The episode "American Dream Factory" also supports the immigration of dirty, mooching Mexicans into the United States. Later seasons, made following MacFarlane's departure from the show, generally toned down these messages in favor of apolitical comedy.
In the first season, most episodes chronicled Stan having to deal with those pesky liberals, including liberal civil rights activists, the liberal media, his liberal daughter, liberal homosexuals, and liberal affirmative action African-Americans. He usually "deals" with said liberals either through the use of a firearm, or by completely misrepresenting the position of the liberals and annoying them to the point at which they give up and leave him alone.
From the second season onward, the show dropped the political dogma in favor of creative, surprisingly clever storylines.
During the interim where Family Guy was canceled, BBC had gained rights to reruns of the show, and were scoring surprisingly huge ratings with British audiences (despite them understanding very few of the pop culture references). BBC felt Fox had made a huge blunder in canning the show, and took the opportunity to rub in their fat American faces. They called Seth MacFarlane up, and offered him a handsome sum of money in exchange for a new show without Fox's involvement. Seth agreed and, assembling a crack team of Ivy League graduates, produced a pilot episode in a mere four days.
After Fox decided to revive Family Guy at the last minute, however, MacFarlane thought there was no point to American Dad!, so he departed from the BBC. Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman, two writers from the pre-cancellation seasons of Family Guy (aka "Back when the show was good," according to fans), took over production of American Dad! and steered it in a bold new direction.
American Dad!'s pilot was poorly received by audiences and critics alike. However, MacFarlane's departure from the show strangely (or not) lead to an increase in the quality of AD!'s writing in the eyes of numerous fans and critics.